Enough pro­por­tion­al­ity

Ex-CIA chief James Woolsey ex­plains why Iran needs to be taken down


The US should de­stroy vir­tu­ally all of the Is­lamic Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard Corps in­fra­struc­ture as well as Iran’s nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties to re­duce its ter­ror­ist and nu­clear threats, for­mer CIA di­rec­tor James Woolsey told The Jerusalem Post in an in­ter­view.

“The next time the IRGC looks cross-eyed at us... we should turn loose six to 12 MOAB [GBU-43/B Mas­sive Ord­nance Air Blast] bombs on their fa­cil­i­ties,” said Woolsey, who was CIA di­rec­tor from 1993 to 1995 dur­ing the Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion. He spoke to the

Post in the fa­mous Ro­tunda Room of the Pierre Ho­tel in Midtown Man­hat­tan.

MOAB bombs, with 18,000 pounds of TNT, are the sec­ond-largest con­ven­tional weapon in the US arse­nal, and the largest ever used, after one was dropped on a sus­pected Is­lamic State tar­get in Afghanistan in April.

“Given what a source of ter­ror­ism the IRGC is... in­stead of talk­ing and pro­por­tion­al­ity – the hell with pro­por­tion­al­ity. We should de­stroy vir­tu­ally ev­ery­thing we can that has to do with the IRGC,” he said.

Woolsey, wear­ing a gray char­coal coat and a red sweater, said, “I think their seiz­ing of a US ship [in Jan­uary 2016] was an act of war. We went to war on less than that in the War of 1812,” not­ing that the US at­tacked Eng­land be­cause it had cap­tured or killed a rel­a­tively small num­ber of sailors.

The in­ten­sity of Woolsey’s ag­gres­sive pro­gram con­trasted with the heav­enly blue sky dis­play­ing the Greek gods in paint­ings on the dome-shaped ceil­ing above and across the walls be­low.

The for­mer CIA di­rec­tor did qual­ify that he “would not use MOABs against civil­ian fa­cil­i­ties, but against mil­i­tary fa­cil­i­ties... and we would be wise to take out ev­ery­thing re­lated to their nu­clear pro­gram.”

Pressed that this ap­proach could drag the US into a highly volatile and un­pre­dictable war with Iran and its prox­ies, he was un­fazed.

He sug­gested that tak­ing a strong ap­proach might also cor­rect what he saw as a fail­ure of the Rea­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion when it with­drew from Le­banon in re­sponse to the 1983 Hezbol­lah bomb­ing of a US bar­racks.

Re­gard­ing the Iran deal, un­like for­mer CIA di­rec­tor Michael Hay­den, who told the Post in Oc­to­ber that he was in fa­vor of fix­ing the deal but against Trump’s de­cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the deal, Woolsey was dis­ap­pointed that Trump did not scrap the deal en­tirely.

Though Hay­den was a Repub­li­can ap­pointee and Woolsey a Demo­cratic one, on the Iran deal, Woolsey out­flanked Hay­den from the right, say­ing that “the Iran nu­clear deal is worse than worth­less.”

Ex­plain­ing his view, he called the deal’s pro­vi­sions for nu­clear in­spec­tions weak re­gard­ing mil­i­tary nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties. He dis­cussed a sce­nario where “the US or the IAEA got record­ings from over­fly­ing air­planes or satel­lites that there is a spot 100 miles north of Tehran which is highly ra­dioac­tive.”

“You tell the Ira­ni­ans you are go­ing to in­spect the next day. The next morn­ing they say you can­not go, be­cause it is a mil­i­tary fa­cil­ity. You re­spond that it was not a de­clared mil­i­tary fa­cil­ity yes­ter­day. They say, ‘We can make it a mil­i­tary fa­cil­ity any­time we want.’” In other words, the Ira­ni­ans could ar­bi­trar­ily use the mil­i­tary fa­cil­ity def­i­ni­tion to skirt in­spec­tions.

What specif­i­cally would Woolsey sug­gest Trump do with the deal?

“I would deal with the deal un­der Amer­i­can con­sti­tu­tional law. Any re­ally ma­jor in­ter­na­tional agree­ment must be a treaty. You are com­mit­ting the en­tire Amer­i­can peo­ple to some­thing. This should have been a treaty. Its ex­ec­u­tive agree­ment sta­tus should be can­celed, and it should be sub­mit­ted to the Se­nate. If ap­proved, it goes into ef­fect, and if not, not.”

But for Woolsey, all of the above is treat­ing the symp­toms without con­fronting the heart of the is­sue: how to weaken Iran’s dam­ag­ing in­flu­ence.

To re­duce Iran’s power in the long term “and bring about a saner world,” Woolsey sug­gested “un­der­min­ing OPEC, end­ing the car­tel” and bring­ing the price of oil down to a his­toric low of $30 a bar­rel.

Es­sen­tially, his idea is to “re­turn oil to a free mar­ket, which in turn could lead to com­pe­ti­tion against oil prod­ucts in the realm of trans­porta­tion and fuel mar­kets for cars.”

If the US, Is­rael and other al­lies “want to dam­age Iran and keep them from run­ning the Gulf, they need to break Iran’s econ­omy, and get­ting the price of oil down is the only thing that does that.”

OPEC is an or­ga­ni­za­tion of 14 oil-rich coun­tries, mostly de­vel­op­ing coun­tries in the Mid­dle East, which work to­gether to con­trol the price of oil in or­der to spread their eco­nomic and geopo­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence.

Woolsey said that the beauty of the idea is that it is just ap­ply­ing free mar­ket prin­ci­ples and is not even Iran-spe­cific; rather, it would have the im­pact of re­duc­ing the power of Iran, as well as other coun­tries such as Rus­sia, to use their strength in oil as a weapon eco­nom­i­cally and to pay for their for­eign ad­ven­tur­ism.

He cited en­ergy ex­perts Gal Luft and Anne Korin’s 2009 book Turn­ing Oil Into Salt in ar­gu­ing that a sim­ple tech­ni­cal fix, which ac­cord­ing to Gen­eral Mo­tors costs only $70 per car, should be added to ev­ery new ve­hi­cle sold in the US.

“Flex fuel ve­hi­cles” would en­sure that cars could run on dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions of gaso­line and a range of al­co­hol fu­els such as methanol or ethanol.

Stan­dards en­sur­ing new cars are flex fuel ve­hi­cles would open the trans­porta­tion fuel mar­ket to fu­els made from en­ergy sources other than oil, and the price of methanol made from nat­u­ral gas is com­pet­i­tive on a per-mile ba­sis with gaso­line.

Woolsey con­tended that such a stan­dard could vir­tu­ally cap the price of oil, with con­sumers choos­ing the most eco­nomic fuel on a per-mile cost ba­sis, creat­ing a shield against OPEC try­ing to in­flate the price of oil.

He said that Is­rael and China are both “do­ing a lot with methanol,” and that, work­ing to­gether with the US, they could un­der­mine the ba­sis of Ira­nian and Rus­sian power.

But this flex­i­ble fuel plan for un­der­min­ing Iran and Rus­sia in the long term would have no ob­vi­ous time­line on it, mak­ing it unattrac­tive to a pres­i­dent like Don­ald Trump who is ea­ger to show off quick photo ops.

Woolsey, who con­sulted for the Trump cam­paign at cer­tain stages, said he would pitch Trump by say­ing, “You are un­der­min­ing the coun­try’s en­e­mies, work­ing to­gether with our good friend Is­rael and our some­times friend China...

“Ev­ery soc­cer mom, as she drives home from tak­ing kids to play soc­cer after school, stops to get gro­ceries be­fore din­ner. She will save $2-$3 on what she buys for din­ner. That means her fam­ily gets a bet­ter meal, as op­posed to if she has to spend that ex­tra $3 on petroleum fu­els .... You are for soc­cer moms, aren’t you Mr. Pres­i­dent? Aren’t they called con­stituents?” he added with a flicker in his eye.

The for­mer CIA di­rec­tor dis­missed pos­si­ble ob­jec­tions from oil-heavy al­lies such as Saudi Ara­bia, Canada and Nor­way, say­ing they can even­tu­ally “all get along” without oil be­ing such a cen­ter­piece of their econ­omy.

This con­cept of fi­nan­cially at­tack­ing ad­ver­saries is also a ma­jor part of how Woolsey con­ceives of fight­ing ter­ror­ism.

Com­ment­ing on a new book called Har­poon: In­side

the Covert War Against Ter­ror­ism’s Money Masters by Shu­rat Hadin di­rec­tor Nit­sana Dar­shan-Leit­ner and Sa­muel Katz, he said, “Of­fense is the key thing, not just to play de­fense. You need to go after ter­ror­ists with lit­i­ga­tion. You have to take it to the ter­ror­ists and the rel­e­vant states who sup­port ter­ror­ism. You need to make it fi­nan­cially unattrac­tive to stay in the busi­ness,” he said.

Groups like Shu­rat Hadin, which pro­mote that kind of lit­i­ga­tion, “are a big part of that, along with law en­force­ment.”

Har­poon tells the story of leg­endary Mos­sad di­rec­tor Meir Da­gan, his top-se­cret task force and of Dar­shan-Leit­ner, who col­lec­tively waged par­al­lel cloak-and-dag­ger and lit­i­ga­tion cam­paigns tar­get­ing the fi­nances that funded at­tacks against Is­rael.

Woolsey’s quote on the book’s back cover talks about the need “to ‘fol­low the money.’ This is the story of how the Mos­sad led this move­ment and sub­stan­tially ef­fected in­ves­ti­ga­tions of ter­ror­ism and sim­i­larly im­por­tant mat­ters and how this in­flu­enced the CIA’s later work in the same field.”

He con­firmed that the CIA was sig­nif­i­cantly and pos­i­tively in­flu­enced by the Mos­sad and Shu­rat Hadin’s work in this area. He added that he worked well and closely with then-Mos­sad di­rec­tor Shab­tai Shavit, and this de­spite the fresh Jonathan Pol­lard con­tro­versy which hung over them at the time.

Con­tin­u­ing his grim – or re­al­is­tic, de­pend­ing on your per­spec­tive – siz­ing up of var­i­ous se­cu­rity chal­lenges, the for­mer CIA di­rec­tor was ex­tremely neg­a­tive about the on­go­ing Pales­tinian ef­forts at rec­on­cil­i­a­tion be­tween the West Bank-based Fatah and Gaza-based Ha­mas.

He said, “I don’t trust ei­ther of those or­ga­ni­za­tions. Is­rael should take zero risk while in­cite­ment in ed­u­ca­tion of Pales­tinian kids con­tin­ues.” Whether Is­rael at­tempts to ne­go­ti­ate a deal with the Pales­tinian Author­ity or with a PA-Ha­mas na­tional unity gov­ern­ment, peace ne­go­ti­a­tions “will not likely suc­ceed. Some de­gree of ne­go­ti­a­tion some­times should be main­tained, in case some­thing un­ex­pected hap­pens, and you want to be able to take ad­van­tage of that.”

He noted that such an un­ex­pected event “hap­pened to me in early fall 1989 when I was picked to take over the Euro­pean ne­go­ti­a­tion over con­ven­tional forces. One week after I took over the job, I was sit­ting in my apart­ment in Vi­enna .... I had misheated some­thing in the mi­crowave and was watch­ing CNN. Then the Berlin Wall goes down. I said, ‘That might have an ef­fect on the talks!’”

De­spite that pos­i­tive ex­am­ple, he re­turned to his theme that he does not “see any rea­son­able chance of suc­cess, given what the Pales­tini­ans teach their kids, the ha­tred they prop­a­gate against Is­rael.”

Re­count­ing hap­pier times be­tween Is­rael and the Pales­tini­ans, he said, “I re­mem­ber go­ing over there as CIA di­rec­tor in 1994, see­ing some of the joint train­ing be­tween Fatah and the Is­raelis. It was quite dra­matic. And there was also the hand­shake in the gar­den,” be­tween Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat.

How­ever, Woolsey has an ad­di­tional off-cam­era mem­ory from his at­ten­dance at the cer­e­mony, re­flect­ing his and other US of­fi­cials’ dis­trust of Arafat even in the best of times.

He said that after “the hand­shake,” Arafat starts down one side of the at­ten­dees and “starts grab­bing each Arab am­bas­sador and plant­ing a wet kiss on their mouths – not their cheeks.”

Colin Pow­ell, then-head of the US armed forces, was stand­ing next to Woolsey and said, “Damn, Jim, he is go­ing to kiss us.”

To avoid an Arafat kiss on the mouth, Pow­ell saluted and el­e­vated to his straight­est height, tow­er­ing over the short Arafat, who could not reach him. Woolsey then seized the mo­ment by grab­bing Arafat’s hand to shake it, and then hand­ing him off to then-US sec­re­tary of de­fense Les Aspin.

Woolsey said he told Pow­ell, “I never thought I would have to shake hands with that son of a bitch – but at least he didn’t kiss us!”

About the Oslo ne­go­ti­a­tions, which he wit­nessed up close, he said, “I thought it was worth try­ing at the time. But Arafat was never se­ri­ous about it; it was noth­ing but a ploy for him.”

Woolsey said that the only chance for peace with the Pales­tini­ans would be if they changed “what they teach their kids” and got a new leader on the scene with the bold drive for peace of for­mer Egyp­tian pres­i­dent An­war Sa­dat.

Re­view­ing his cur­rent suc­ces­sor at the CIA, di­rec­tor Mike Pom­peo, he said, “So far, so good.”

Asked about al­le­ga­tions that Pom­peo has politi­cized as­pects of in­tel­li­gence re­lated to Iran, or that his pub­lic views as a con­gress­man act to pres­sure CIA an­a­lysts on the is­sue, Woolsey said that, if that was an is­sue, “it will go away with time... and peo­ple can dis­count what some­one’s views were” be­fore they were di­rec­tor.

Woolsey was crit­i­cal of Trump for leak­ing Is­raeli in­tel­li­gence to Rus­sia and for his propen­sity for broad­cast­ing so much of his na­tional se­cu­rity strat­egy.

He con­trasted Trump with for­mer pres­i­dent Ronald Rea­gan, re­call­ing that Rea­gan’s ad­min­is­tra­tion once dis­cov­ered that Rus­sia was steal­ing small elec­tronic US gov­ern­ment de­vices and that Rea­gan qui­etly or­dered some of them booby-trapped.

“Rea­gan could look at some re­con­nais­sance satel­lite feeds of Rus­sian oil and gas pipelines go­ing up in smoke – boom, boom, boom from the booby­traps!” he said with a big smile. “But they did not pub­li­cize it. The whole thing was very clas­si­fied un­til years later.”

In in­tel­li­gence you need to “speak softly, carry a big stick and some­times use the big stick.” •


EX-CIA CHIEF James Woolsey: We should de­stroy vir­tu­ally ev­ery­thing we can that has to do with the IRGC.

MEM­BERS OF THE Ira­nian Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard march in a pa­rade in Tehran in 2011 to com­mem­o­rate the an­niver­sary of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88).

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